Woodruff Place is unique among Indianapolis’ historic neighborhoods in that it was not only Indianapolis’s first suburb but was a separate town for almost 100 years before being absorbed into Indianapolis in the early 1960s. As master planned by James Woodruff in the early 1870s, the Olmstead influenced development included esplanades filled with statuary and urns, nine fountains, historic streetlights, an ornate concrete 10th Street wall, and eventually a large town hall.
After Indianapolis annexed Woodruff Place, the city maintained this historic infrastructure over the years with a steadily declining amount of effort and care. Woodruff residents began assuming responsibility for this maintenance through extensive volunteer involvement and successful fundraising events like the annual flea market and biennial home and garden tour. However, it became increasingly clear that the level of maintenance, repair, and improvement of this infrastructure was well beyond the scope of these fundraising activities.
It is interesting to watch Downtown Indy pursue an Economic Improvement District since Woodruff Place successfully created an EID in 2016. Through an EID, property owners agree to be “taxed” a relatively small amount per year to be directed toward a specific purpose overseen by the City Council and a locally appointed EID board. For Woodruff, this is our historic infrastructure. The Department of Public Works has promised to match the EID money for five years.
For Woodruff, this has been a godsend since we have had to replace the Town Hall roof and redo the back wall and run new electrical service to the West and Middle Drive fountains in the last two years. These projects have cost tens of thousands of dollars. However, EID funding is restricted to certain types of projects. Foundation funds pay for important projects that the EID cannot fund. In 2017, that has included treating more than 50 public ash trees, part of the Town Hall stucco restoration, and a new section of the 10th Street Fence restoration. Funds raised this fall will be pay for similar projects in 2018.
This is why Foundation fundraising is so important. We urge residents and interested nonresidents alike to make tax deductible donations to the Historic Woodruff Place Foundation. These can be made online at http://www.woodrufplace.org or by check made to “Historic Woodruff Place Foundation” and sent to Town Hall at 735 East Dr. (or dropped in the mail slot!). Thank you for supporting the neighborhood generously with your time, money, and spirit!